A “Great” Large Family: Understandings of Multiculturalism among Newcomers to Canada

Christopher J. Fries, Paul Gingrich


Analysts have taken positions either supporting or attacking
multicultural policy, yet there is insufficient research concerning
the public policy of multiculturalism as it is understood
and practiced in the lives of Canadians. This analysis
approaches multiculturalism as a text which is constituent
of social relations within Canadian society. Data from
the Regina Refugee Research Project are analyzed within
Nancy Fraser’s social justice framework to explore the
manner in which multiculturalism and associated policies
are understood and enacted in the lived experience of
newcomers. Newcomers’ accounts of multiculturalism are
compared with five themes identified via textual analysis of
the Canadian Multiculturalism Act—diversity, harmony,
equality, overcoming barriers, and resource. Embedded
within the accounts newcomers offered of Canadian multiculturalism are relations of ruling that can be understood
within the context of struggles for recognition and social
justice. Further research is needed to investigate the relational
processes in which differing perceptions of and
experiences with multiculturalism are embedded and to
compare the present accounts with those of other groups of
immigrants and Canadian-born.

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